Social worker, educator and political activist Nancy Humphreys has made a $1 million bequest to support the Institute for Political Social Work at UConn to encourage social workers to take an active role in politics.
Humphreys’ bequest will help ensure the continued success of the Institute, which she founded at the School of Social Work in 1995 to encourage political activism as a legitimate specialization in the social work profession. “Social workers are devoted to helping people change and to changing society,” says Humphreys. “By participating in politics, we can help make the system fairer, especially for those most at risk. I am delighted that my gift will support the Institute and help more social workers become politically active by providing them with training that allows them to be successful.”
Among the Institute’s most important activities is its annual Campaign School, a two-day workshop that teaches social workers about political campaign strategies and how to run successful political campaigns. Held annually for more than 18 years, the school has trained more than 700 individuals from 24 states on all aspects of running a successful campaign for elected office.
The gift was announced this week at an event honoring Humphreys upon her retirement from the School of Social Work, which she joined in 1987 as dean and professor. Since stepping down as dean in 1995, she has served as director of the Institute and professor of policy practice.
“We are so grateful for Nancy’s generous gift, which will continue her legacy at the School of Social Work and the University,” says Salome Raheim, dean of the School of Social Work. “Nancy pioneered a new way of strengthening social workers’ understanding of policy and its impact; and she recognized and supported their tremendous potential as elected leaders and political activists. With this gift, the Institute that bears her name will continue to attract high quality candidates from across the state of Connecticut and the nation.”
The Connecticut Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) celebrated their 40th anniversary recently by honoring women who exemplified leadership, potential to excel and commitment to their communities. Three MSW graduates were among the forty women honored.
Jillian Gilchrest MSW ’06 is the Director of Public Policy and Communication at the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services in East Hartford, CT. She is dedicated to making Connecticut a better place for women, children and families and inspires the next generation of women through her continued focus on advocating for women’s issues. Currently, Jillian is an elected member of the West Hartford Board of Education and a blogger for ctworkingmoms.com.
Setta Mushegian MSW ’10 is the Director of Crisis Counseling and Advocacy at The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education in Stamford, CT. She uses her expertise in sexual violence and passion for positive change to inform her practice and to inspire the next generation of women. Currently, Setta sits on the Board of Directors for the CT Sexual Assault Crisis Services, is a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Justice for Abuse Children Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation Committee, and is a member of the two multidisciplinary teams in Lower Fairfield County that investigate disclosures of child sexual abuse.
Gretchen Raffa MSW ’12 is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. She has become a fixture in the Connecticut reproductive health community for implementing new and innovative ways to inform and engage the public about political issues affecting reproductive health and justice. Gretchen has been leading the CT Coalition for Choice and is a board member of Youth Rights Media in New Haven and an active participant in the LGBTQ community.
MSW student Ashley Walker was awarded the Extraordinary Bookshare Group Facilitator for 2014 from South Side Family Resource Center a program of the Bristol Public School system. Ashley is the first UConn SSW student to receive this recognition.
Ashley Walker, MSW Student
Ashley just completed her first year internship as a Group Work concentration student with a Focused Area of Study in Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Her internship was at South Side Family Resource Center. Ashley was responsible for several tasks including, running the school’s food back-pack program where backpacks were filled with non-perishable food items, and sent home each weekend, to help extend each family’s food budget. She met with two mentees weekly, to assist them in identifying personal development goals and also co-facilitated a social skills group with the school’s psychologist.
In addition, Ashley facilitated a 5th Grade Leadership Group guiding the students to work together as a team to address the literacy needs of students and assist them in establishing the first ever 5th grade newsletter, S.O.A.R.ing Eagle News. Her work with students in this group earned her the Extraordinary Bookshare Group Facilitator award. The 5th grade students expanded their reading, writing, interviewing, photography and creative expression skills while working on the newsletter for their peers. The newsletter was positively received by the students, school staff and administrators.
Ashley’s field instructor, Linda Rich stated “Ashley will bring a wealth of insight, commitment and vision to the social work profession. She empowers her clients to excel and her sense of humor is a breath of fresh air to all who know her. It has been a pleasure to supervise her this year.”